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Poster: jerlouvis Date: Aug 6, 2011 5:04pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: limited by the audience?

Bkidwell,I also for the most part only listen to the more jam oriented portion of the catalog,and fully grasp that the band considered themselves a rock dance band.I can't speculate on what type of music Jerry might have made post 75' if on his own,to compare it to what he actually did do with his non-Dead projects seems unfair because those were straight ahead bar band like projects due to that fact that he was in the GD and couldn't donate more time and focus on them.I would like to think he would have been able to produce a more varied and interesting body of work.As for his 76'-79' Dead output,I wouldn't miss it if he had done something else,there is a good chance it might have been better.

Where the audience is concerned I don't find being a cut above your average grouping of morons to be any consolation in the fact that your average Gd crowd musical IQ was so low the band had to dumb their music dowm.I strongly doubt when Coltrane composed something or had an idea during a live performance he had to consider the intelligence of his listeners.I think they could have propelled it a few steps further by challenging the audience,instead of caving in to their lameness.I have no opinion or interest in the studio work of the band,and other than sheer stupidity of saying Brent is a better musician than Keith I can think of nothing I would consider sacrilege.

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Poster: bkidwell Date: Aug 6, 2011 5:46pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: limited by the audience?

Even though I personally much prefer long, exploratory improvisation to a sequence of simple, standalone songs, I don't think that my taste is necessarily "better" than that of someone who enjoys other things more. The foundation of the art of music is simple songs, and if someone prefers the 1970 acoustic sets to the 45-minute Playin' from 74, I can understand and respect that preference. I enjoy simple, traditional music making a lot, I just enjoy large scale complexity and intensity even more.

I also think trying to please the audience, to create a good experience for them, is a big part of what the band was doing - I don't think taking an "art for art's sake, who cares if they like it" viewpoint to an extreme would have been an improvement. The feedback between the band and audience was important to them.

In many ways I think the contrast and distance between the different types of music performed is a source of strength, not a weakness. The really far-out passages have more impact when they are set into relief against more conventional music. "The tiger" wouldn't seem very mind-melting and interesting if it wasn't juxtaposed and in tension with simple, songful material. It is the combination of multiple elements within the same frame that elevates a lot of what the band did.

If you look at any single element in the band's vocabulary - blues, rock, folk, thematic improvisation, "free" improv, space/feedback, whatever - there are probably other bands which do it better! I don't think they could out-Coltrane Coltrane so to speak.

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Poster: light into ashes Date: Aug 6, 2011 7:56pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: limited by the audience?

The Dead did aim for contrast - their shows were almost like variety shows. Not just over the length of a show, but also within a jam, they liked to skip from one style to another, and maybe throw a wildly different song or two in there for a change of pace... That was, after all, what started this thread!

"There are probably other bands which do it better..." In some areas, yes... Playing regular "songs" was many times, I think, the band's weak point. But in the way they jammed together, I'm not sure if they've been equaled... After all, the saying goes, "they're the only ones who do what they do..."

This is one guy's amusing set of reviews about the Dead - in his view, they were thoroughly mediocre in everything they did! (Except when they were awful...)
http://starling.rinet.ru/music/dead.htm

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Poster: rastamon Date: Aug 6, 2011 7:02pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: limited by the audience?

wow, very well said bekidwell!

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Poster: jerlouvis Date: Aug 6, 2011 9:02pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: limited by the audience?

I enjoy a good deal of the bands repertoire,and at no point stated what I like as being better than anything.I also suggested no changes in the way they performed or presented their music,as a matter of fact I questioned why folks could not accept the music for what it is.I find it a shame that the band felt it did not have the audiences support in exploring their music to the fullest.

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Poster: bkidwell Date: Aug 6, 2011 10:10pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: limited by the audience?

I didn't mean to sound like I was projecting judgments or opinions onto your post. The process of discussing the band always involves expressing preferences and making both positive and critical statements, if I make a "contrasting point" I'm not necessarily trying to invalidate the statement I'm responding to. I appreciate your extensive listening to the band, your understanding of adventurous jazz, and the perspective you bring to your comments - just like I believe different tastes than mine are valid, I wasn't intending to negate anything you said.

I also feel the same way you do - in a more perfect world, the band's audience would have had even deeper musical understanding, and the band would had been able to dig more deeply into some elements of the music. After all, this branch of discussion was started by me "complaining" about how the band never learned a technique for a smooth extended transition between distant keys which don't share chords or a tonic note.

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Poster: jerlouvis Date: Aug 7, 2011 8:44am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: limited by the audience?

I would have to say that your that your post did seem very judgmental,and also seemed to address points I did not make, rather directly,so it seemed that I had made said points.I understand how the back and forth of the conversation here works and at no time took issue with anything in your responses,you could not be a more of a live and let live person than I am,I always enjoy our conversation and find your viewpoints on the music fresh and original,this time it seemed we were having two different conversations.It was not a big deal,just confusing.

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Poster: bkidwell Date: Aug 7, 2011 9:41am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: limited by the audience?

Yeah, I understand the confusion. A lot of times, when I respond to a post, I'm not necessarily responding to the post itself, I'm responding to my own thoughts that the post triggered, not the post itself, if that makes sense. Sometimes I think "interesting post" and click reply and then listen to the GD for thirty minutes while letting my thoughts wander and then write starting from where my thoughts have arrived. Usually there is a connection but its often somewhat indirect. I should try to make it more clear when I'm responding to something specific someone else wrote.

I have a lot of inner dialog about things like artistic purity vs. popularity, whether Beethoven really is as great as I perceive or if I'm just caught up in an outdated musical value system, memories of debates I've had with musicians I was collaborating with about how much dissonance and tension was right for a performance or composition - all kinds of issues in musical aesthetics I think are challenging to resolve.

To unwrap a few more layers, when I say something like "everyone's musical taste is valid" I don't always really believe it. On a purely experiential level, its hard not to perceive my own evaluations of good and bad as representing something objective. The nature of the art of music isn't exactly arbitrary, there is a lot of "scientific fact" about the physics of sound and how humans perceive music on the neurological level that create the framework for how music works.

Anyway, I have this big ongoing internal dialog and debate about some issues related to all these questions about what the "musical ideal" of Grateful Dead music is, how that relates to the art of music as a whole, how individual listeners respond - and your post triggered that topic for me, so what I posted ended up having more to do with my own internal debate on related subjects than what you said specifically.

This post was modified by bkidwell on 2011-08-07 16:41:07

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Poster: jerlouvis Date: Aug 7, 2011 12:30pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: limited by the audience?

Understood bkidwell,the waters here can get murky on occasion,I'm fairly sure I have left a few people scratching their heads.